Australian news, and some related international items

Port Augusta, South Australia, becoming an Australian, a global, leader in renewable energy

Life after coal: the South Australian city leading the way
It was a coal town, predicted to be wiped out by the closure of two ageing power plants. Now Port Augusta has 13 renewable projects in train,
Guardian by Adam Morton 20 July 18 

The largest solar farm in the southern hemisphere lies on arid land at the foot of the Flinders Ranges, more than 300km north of Adelaide. If that sounds remote, it doesn’t do justice to how removed local residents feel from what currently qualifies as debate in Canberra.

As government MPs and national newspapers thundered over whether taxpayers should underwrite new coal-fired power, mauling advice from government agencies as they went, residents of South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf region have been left to ponder why decision-makers weren’t paying attention to what is happening in their backyard.

In mid 2016, this region was on the brink, hit by the closure and near collapse of coal and steel plants. Now it’s on the cusp of a wave of construction that investors and community leaders say should place the region at the vanguard of green innovation – not just in Australia but globally. There has been an explosion in investment, with $5bn spread over the next five years. There are 13 projects in various stages of development, with more than 3,000 construction and 200 ongoing jobs. The economy of this once-deflated region has been transformed and those who live here are starting to feel hopeful again….

In simple terms, the Upper Spencer Gulf transition story goes like this.  ……

At the same time, further around the gulf, the steel town of Whyalla was teetering precipitously after the owner, Arrium, put the mill in voluntary administration facing debts of more than $4bn.

Yet as the doom hit, there were also rays of hope as several clean power projects were mooted for the surrounding area.

Two years on, the Port Augusta city council lists 13 projects at varying stages of development. And Whyalla has unearthed a potential saviour in British billionaire industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, who not only bought the steelworks but promised to expand it while also spending what will likely end up being $1.5bn in solar, hydro and batteries to make it viable.

Gupta says the logic behind his investment in solar and storage is simple: it’s now cheaper than coal.

Johnson says he expects the Upper Gulf region to receive $5bn in clean energy investment over the next five years. “My gut feel – and I’m an optimist – is that they will all go ahead,” he says. “They are different technologies and they are playing in different markets, so they are not competing for power purchase agreements.”By any measure, the Bungala solar power plant is vast. Once its second stage is complete, 800,000 photovoltaic modules will cover an area the size of the Melbourne central business district……

Bungala is nearing completion, with work on the $425m plant expected to be finished by January. Its first section started feeding into the national electricity grid in May. Further west, ground has been broken on the 59-turbine, 212MW Lincoln Gap wind farm, though progress has temporarily stalled after developer Nexif Energy discovered unexploded ordnance from historic military testing on site.

As Guardian Australia visited the region, the South Australian Liberal government gave final approval for a $600m hybrid wind-and-solar energy park on the south-eastern edge of Port Augusta that proponent DP Energy says will be the largest development of its kind in the country. A second stage with more solar and a 400MW battery is slated to follow.

The world is going slow on coal, but misinformation is distorting the facts

At Cultana, just north of Whyalla, Energy Australia is investigating building the country’s first saltwater pumped hydro energy storage plant. It would draw water from the Spencer Gulf, pump it uphill when energy is plentiful and cheap, and convert it to hydro electricity at times of high demand. A decision on the project is expected in 2019.

All are potentially agenda setting, but none are as anticipated as the Aurora solar thermal power station. It is the culmination of a push that began in 2010. A research paper by advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions formed the basis for the creation of Repower Port Augusta, a community group that built widespread support for bringing the developing technology to the region among councils, business and unions.

US developer SolarReserve took notice. It plans to use a field of mirrors to heat a molten salt system inside a 234-metre tower. It will both generate electricity and store eight hours of energy that can be sent out when the sun isn’t shining. The company says the $650m plant, to be built at the Carriewerloo sheep station about 30km north of Port Augusta, will be the world’s largest solar tower with storage and provide 5% of the state’s energy needs.

Aurora is not the only solar-thermal project linked to the region. Port Augusta is already home to a small concentrated solar-thermal plant owned by Sundrop Farms that it uses to run a hydroponic greenhouse that provides Coles with tomatoes.

Also on the horizon, and just as unique design-wise, is a proposal by Solastor, chaired by former Liberal party leader John Hewson. It promises new graphite-based technology to capture solar energy and store it in a load-shifting battery. Hewson says it will be a world-class project. “Solar thermal will take the market, there’s no doubt about that,” he says.

Why are developers choosing the Upper Spencer Gulf? Investors say it has several things going for it: great sunshine; a history of electricity generation that left strong connections into the national grid; nearby industry – particularly mine developments – demanding reliable energy; strong facilitating support from the Weatherill Labor government that has continued under the new Liberal premier, Steven Marshall.

…………“The Upper Spencer Gulf happens to be a very good place to start,” Garnaut says. “Some coal generation regions have good renewables and others don’t, and no others have them as good as Port Augusta. [But] the Port Augusta developments could be replicated in any region that has good solar and wind resources.”

The inclusion of solar thermal is crucial as it means jobs on a semi-industrial scale. Wind and solar photovoltaic plants bring plenty of jobs in construction, but few in operation. Solar thermal has more in common in operation with coal, using steam to spin a turbine. SolarReserve expects to have a 50-strong permanent workforce at the Aurora plant. …….

July 19, 2018 Posted by | energy, South Australia | Leave a comment

Ecosystems in Australia are being destroyed by climate change

It might be too late to save these Australian ecosystems from climate change

A series of sudden and catastrophic ecosystem collapses has hit Australia – and researchers think they may be irreversible, INDEPENDENT, Rebecca Harris   David Bowman  19 July 18 

July 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

New Laws Will Allow the Use of Military to Break Protests

 Sydney Criminal lawyers, By Paul Gregoire | 

The Turnbull government recently introduced legislation into parliament designed to lower the threshold for calling out the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to assist state police forceswith public incidents.

The Defence Amendment (Call Out of the Australian Defence Force) Bill 2018 revises Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903, which was inserted into the Act in the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Currently, the military can only be called upon by state and territory authorities when they’ve exhausted all other options. The new bill would allow for a call out request to be actioned, when it’s decided that ADF personnel can “enhance” the ability of state police in dealing with an incident.

The new legislation also allows the PM and other authorised ministers to send in the troops when state authorities haven’t requested assistance, but Commonwealth interests are at stake. And it provides ADF members with enhanced search capabilities and limited shoot-to-kill powers.

A much broader scope

Australian attorney general Christian Porter told journalists that the Lindt Café siege, along with the potential for a Paris terrorist attack-style incident being carried out in Australia, make streamlining the process of calling out “SAS or commando regiments” necessary.

However, the call out powers don’t just apply to terrorism. They target “domestic violence.” This is a broad term set out under section 119 of the Australian Constitution, which provides that the federal government should protect states and territories against invasion and rebellion.

Indeed, Mr Porter has stated that the ADF could be sent in to quell widespread rioting. While civil liberties advocates stress that these new powers have the potential to be used upon peaceful protests and industrial actions.

Against strikes and demonstrations

Civil Liberties Australia CEO Bill Rowlings points out that the bill allows the government to call out the ADF to protect declared infrastructure. “Given the current government’s policies, troops are likely to be called out around coal-fired power stations and ports that export coal,” he explained.

“The federal government can use the army to break environmental protests just like the government did in the late 1940s to break coal strikes,” Mr Rowlings told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “And this new law makes it clear troops can again be used to break strikes.”

The legislation also provides that military personnel can use lethal force during certain civilian incidents. Proposed section 51N(3) outlines that this can be done in the protection of an individual’s life, to take action against an aircraft or vessel, as well as in the protection of declared infrastructure.

Military police

The Defence Call Out Bill makes “it sound like the military will only be supporting local police, yet troops under this law get powers to detain, search and question Australians,” Mr Rowlings made clear. These are “powers that ought to be exercised only by police.”

……… An incremental erosion“A real danger of laws like these are how they might be used by a more extreme government in five, ten or twenty years from now.” Mr Rowlings warned. He added that current situations in Turkey and Hungary should serve as “cautionary examples.”

The Defence Call Out Bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, which is accepting submissions until 31 July.

The new bill comes on the back of more than 70 pieces of legislation that have been enacted at the federal level since 9/11 in the name of national security and counterterrorism, which have consistently been whittling away at citizens’ civil rights.

“Before 9/11, Australians had very few, legally-enforceable rights,” Mr Rowlings concluded. “Today, Australians have none except those that parliament hasn’t yet turned its mind to overturning or abolishing.”

July 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal | Leave a comment

The ultimate nightmare – Trump’s plan for nuclear weapons in space

Star wars returns – Free speech tv. 1 of 3

Trump’s Space Force: Military Profiteering’s Final Frontier

“The heavens are going to be littered with radioactive debris.”

by Harvey Wasserman July 19, 2018 

The Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump, has announced a new mission into the realm of martial excess. It is one is that will surely enrich the aerospace industry while spreading the global battlefield to a new dimension.

Trump is calling for the creation of a new Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military, to militarize the heavens.

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space,” Trump told a meeting of the National Space Council in mid-June. “We must have American dominance in space.”

To this end, the President has taken a page from Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars playbook. Reagan’s scheme, according to a recent article by Karl Grossman, was built around “nuclear reactors and plutonium systems on orbiting battle platforms providing the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.”

Grossman, a journalism professor at State University of New York/College of New York and author of the book The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet, has been reporting on the militarization of space for decades, says the move will likely spur a new international competition to weaponize space. Continue reading

July 19, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

China General Nuclear Power Corporation buys 75% stake in wind power project from Australia’s Macquarie Group

Reuters 18th July 2018 ,China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has acquired a 75 percent
stake in a Swedish wind power project from Australia’s Macquarie Group and GE Energy Financial Services, state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

The North Pole wind power project, located in Pitea, Sweden, is expected to be operational by the end of 2019 with a capacity of 650,000 kilowatts, making it the single largest onshore wind power park in Europe, Xinhua said.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, wind | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is now recognised as not economically viable

Ecologist 18th July 2018 Nuclear power is now recognised as not economically viable. This confirms
that renewable energy really does deserve its place in the sun, argues Bruce Davis, the managing director of Abundance Investment.

The UK has long been a welcoming habitat for a number of white elephants. Normally, these
rare and massive beasts roam freely, grazing on political expediency. However, now and again their existence is threatened by outbreaks of political honesty and economic necessity.

This week saw calls for the humane culling of one species of white elephant in particular, namely our
political obsession with nuclear energy. This is an obsession that continues despite the industry’s inability to reduce the risks of construction, costs of production and – most importantly – find a sustainable and morally acceptable way to deal with long-term storage of radioactive waste.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Steel giant BlueScope turns to solar with major PPA deal — RenewEconomy

Australian steel giant BlueScope turns to solar to help power its Port Kembla Steelworks, signing a 7-year power purchase agreement to take the bulk of the output from the 133MW Finley Solar Farm to be located 100km west of Albury.

via Steel giant BlueScope turns to solar with major PPA deal — RenewEconomy

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swan Hill solar farm officially opened in Victoria — RenewEconomy

One of Victoria’s first large-scale solar projects, IIG’s merchant funded Swan Hill solar farm, has been formally opened.

via Swan Hill solar farm officially opened in Victoria — RenewEconomy

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Investors reap rewards as CleanTech Index marks 5 years of ASX outperformance — RenewEconomy

Australian CleanTech Index has outperformed ASX200 by cumulative 89% over last five financial years and, for fifth year in row has outperformed the wider market. And investors are making handsome profits.

via Investors reap rewards as CleanTech Index marks 5 years of ASX outperformance — RenewEconomy

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snowy 2.0 will result in more coal power, delayed solar and other storage — RenewEconomy

AEMO report confirms suspicions that the construction of proposed Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project would result in more coal being burned for power needs, and will crowd out large scale solar and other storage projects.

via Snowy 2.0 will result in more coal power, delayed solar and other storage — RenewEconomy

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July 19 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Rooftop solar could save utilities $100 to $120 per installed kilowatt” • Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory calculated that reduced demand in California because of solar panels installed between 2013 and 2015 saved utilities up to $730 million on purchases of electricity. There is a downside, however. [Ars Technica] […]

via July 19 Energy News — geoharvey

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s growing plutonium stockpile fuels fears — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

The Fukushima disaster has depressed demand for fuel for other nuclear power plants, but Japan’s plutonium stockpile keeps growing. 17 Jul 2018 TOKYO: Japan has amassed enough plutonium to make 6,000 atomic bombs as part of a programme to fuel its nuclear plants, but concern is growing that the stockpile is vulnerable to terrorists […]

via Japan’s growing plutonium stockpile fuels fears — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TEPCO throwing money to the wind for nuclear! — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

via TEPCO throwing money to the wind for nuclear! — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why consumers should install solar, and join pressure groups — RenewEconomy

Mark Diesendorf urges those who care about climate change to go further than installing solar panels and voting and join pressure groups.

via Why consumers should install solar, and join pressure groups — RenewEconomy

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gupta’s grand solar plans in South Australia get network tick — RenewEconomy

AEMO says two South Australian regions could add 2GW of renewables without any transmission upgrades, and suggests Roxby Downs could emerge as major solar energy region.

via Gupta’s grand solar plans in South Australia get network tick — RenewEconomy

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment